"Modern Family," ABC's show about the chaotic lives of three related couples and their children, won best comedy series for a third year and supporting actor Emmys for Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen, as well as a directing award.
'Homeland' creators receive writing prize (Photo: Reuters)
"Homeland," a post 9/11 psychological thriller about a returning Iraq war hero turned by al-Qaeda, won best drama after one season on cable channel Showtime.
It also took home trophies for best writing and best acting for its two leads, Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, for a total of six including technical awards. The show's Israeli creator, Gideon Raff, was among the recipients.
"Homeland," said to be one of President Barack Obama's favorite TV programs, brought to an end the reign of AMC's stylish 1960s advertising show "Mad Men," which left Sunday's Emmy ceremony empty-handed.
Best actress Claire Danes (Photo: AP)
It was the biggest shutout in Emmy history for "Mad Men," which had gone into Sunday's awards as joint top nominee with 17 nominations.
"Homeland" also beat popular "Downton Abbey," about aristocrats and their servants in an English country house, and HBO's medieval fantasy series "Game of Thrones," in what was the first year that all the nominated best drama series came from cable television.
Age of anxiety
Danes, who plays a bipolar CIA operative in a cat-and-mouse game with Lewis's sleeper agent, said she believed "Homeland" had succeeded with viewers and critics because it was neither preachy nor overtly political.
"We are a little startled. I don't think anyone was expecting to be recognized this way starting off," Danes told reporters backstage.
(The show) "doesn't take a very biased position (but) it does speak to our feelings of anxiety and unrest right now, in the sense that we're in a new era where the enemy is not so clear."
Danes said it was "way cool" that Obama is a fan. "I think it speaks to the relevancy of the show, and it's hugely validating," she added.
"Homeland" returns for a second season on September 30, with an opening episode set against the fictional bombing by Israel of Iranian nuclear facilities and the global tensions that ensue.
Israeli producer on stage too (Photo: Reuters)
American politics did figure strongly in other Emmy races. "Game Change," the HBO story of Sarah Palin's entry into the 2008 US vice presidential race, was also a big winner, taking the Emmy for best miniseries, writing, directing and acting for star Julianne Moore.
"Wow, I feel so validated because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs down!" Moore said while accepting her first Emmy.
Backstage Moore thanked actress and Palin impersonator Tina Fey, and journalist Katie Couric for what she called their "incredible influence" on the 2008 elections. Couric interviewed Palin in 2008 in what became a cultural and political landmark after the encounter was spoofed by Fey on "Saturday Night Live."
In what was seen as a tight race for lead comedy actress, Julia Louis-Dreyfus beat "Girls" star Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, "New Girl" Zooey Deschanel and Tina Fey with her turn as a frustrated US vice president in the wickedly satirical HBO political show "Veep."
"It's a bit mystifying to me because people say this show is a comedy, but I don't see anything funny about me being vice president of the United States," the former "Seinfeld" star quipped.